Haim – Days Are Gone (2013)

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Haim’s debut Days Are Gone is an outstanding instance of throwback pop and 1970s influences stitched together in colorful and undeniably fun fashion. Comprised of sisters Este, Danielle and Alana, the Los Angeles-based Haim has been at this for some time.

Long before Days Are Gone, they played in a family band with dad on the drums and mom on guitar. Following that, two sisters were in the Valli Girls and earned a record deal with Columbia that hatched a song on the soundtrack for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. By 2006, they formed their own band and called it Haim.

If it sounds like these cats were born to perform, that’s entirely the case. And it’s obvious from the opening heartbeats of “Falling” that Haim means business in a way right out of some neon 1980s movie where Nick Nolte wears shades and lurid shirts.

Days Are Gone is built on synth luster, clanking beats, spotless vocal blends, and all-round coolness. It’s a refined recording, but the sense of raw energy that glides through keeps it from coming off on the detached side. It’s a meticulous record, but it’s not clinical.

There’s the rattling “Forever,” the tune that caught buzz back in 2012 and shows up in just the right spot on the record. The vocals come together smartly over low-key guitars and an awful lot of glorious froth. It’s a pleasure to listen to, particularly as the chorus keeps pushing its resonant way into the speakers.

Or to push the Mac comparison further, there’s “Honey & I.” There’s even a touch of Paul Simon in this number because all the hip kids are listening to Graceland now. Haim, for their part, come through with an almost tentative strand of guitar that falls in front of shimmering vocals and a whole lot of warmth.

A darker touch grazes “My Song 5,” a sledgehammered piece that is as spare as it is adamant. Written with the help of Ariel Rechtshaid, this joint features the razor-wire guitar of Danielle and synth pulses for extra zest.

Days Are Gone is a marvellous debut. It has more hooks than a pirate wedding band, setting Haim as an assertive and accomplished group with a real knack for fashioning whole songs. A pop record made from equal parts wistfulness and future-thinking, this is a stylish blend of magnetism and exactness that stands as one of the year’s best.

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Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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